By Chris Hauler
Eastpointe was originally established in the 1830’s by immigrant German and Irish settlers. The original name of the city was adopted in 1924 after years of calling the town’s Post Office “Half-Way” due to its location between downtown Detroit and the Macomb County seat at Mount Clemens. The Half-Way Inn (pictured above) was a popular stopping place for stagecoaches traveling across Michigan, over the next five years the growth of the population was so tremendous that “Half-Way” qualified for city status. In 1929, the newly formed city would be renamed East Detroit which would stick until 1991 when the city was renamed the current Eastpointe.
The renaming from East Detroit to Eastpointe came after a name change had been proposed and then approved by residents as a way to remove any association with the neighboring city of Detroit. The name change was due more to a feeling of a lack of identity than anything having to do with the declining city of Detroit. The city’s school district remained unaffected by the change of the city’s name and is still known as East Detroit Public School District.
According to city officials, Eastpointe is a city of 34,077 residents and an area comprising 5.1 square miles. The city is located in Macomb County in southeastern Michigan. The city proudly considers itself the “Gateway to Macomb County” as it is literally the dividing line between Macomb and Wayne Counties. Eastpointe is bordered by numerous cities including Detroit, Harper Woods, Warren, Roseville, and St. Clair Shores. The main cross section of Eastpointe is Gratiot Avenue and 9 Mile Road.
According to the Eastpointe Historical Society:
“Originally what is now Gratiot Avenue was an Indian trail through the wilderness. In 1827, the army surveyed the roadway and by 1835 built a “corduroy-type” road. Logs were cut on the right-of-way and laid crosswise to elevate the road above water. The military road led from Fort Wayne in Detroit to Fort Gratiot (now Port Huron). In 1850, a plank toll road replaced the original corduroy road. The toll was one cent for each horse.”
Gratiot Avenue is now an eight-lane concrete highway, with a parkway from Eight Mile to Fourteen Mile Road. Nine Mile Road, which for years was a country dirt road, has been a gravel road, a narrow blacktop road, and now a modern five lane concrete street.